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Avid reader of children's and YA fiction, with the occasional dabble in the world of grown up non fiction.
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1. A Note on Booktopia....

It's not so easy to stay away!

I just wanted to put a note up here to let you know why this seemingly stagnant blog is up here.

I worked on Booktopia for 3 years, and there are all sorts of reviews within. I am leaving this blog here in the hopes that folks will search the archives for YA and picture book suggestions.

Search away!

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2. The Twelve Days of Halloween - A Favourite and a Farewell

Boris and Bella are neighbors in Booville, and they don't exactly get along. Bella is a bit of a mess, and Boris is simply too neat, and neither understands the other.

Bella gets the bright idea of having a Halloween party. She invites everyone in town. Everyone, except Boris, that is! When Boris gets wind of this, he decides to throw his own fete, and invites everyone except, you've guessed it, Bella.

Well, it turns out that none of the creatures in town want to go to either Boris or Bella's shin-digs. Folks don't want to get bitten by Bella's dust bunnies, and they don't want to be admonished by Boris for scuffing up the floors. Everyone is heading off to Harry Beastie's bash.

Both Boris and Bella decide to go to Harry's and give him the what for. Instead, Boris and Bella grudgingly have a good time at the party. After realizing that they are perfectly sized dancing partners, they start to get over their differences.

Beautifully illustrated by Gris Grimly (in his spooky way), Carolyn Crimi's Boris and Bella is simply put my favourite Halloween title. I return to it again and again for read alouds at school and at home as well. My best birthday gift was some Grimly art (the last illustration in the book), which my husband then framed with a homemade sculpy Tim Burton-esque black frame. Truth be told, I'm somewhat of a Bella, and he's a bit Boris.

So, it is with a bit of a heavy heart that I take this last favourite book post to announce the ending of this here blog. It's been a good run, but I have decided to focus my energy over at "Welcome to my Tweendom". If you would like to follow what I am reading in the realm of picture books and teenlit, friend me over at Goodreads.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!

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3. The Twelve Days of Halloween -- Steam Park

What could be better than an amusement park? (Well, lots of things if you tend to watch horror movies!). A bunch of kids run happily through the amusement park and are excited to get on the roller coaster. It's a bit scary, but it seems fun enough until the track splits and one car carrying two boys ends up landing in a boiler room of sorts. The boys are pursued by a fat bald man, who chains them to the innards of the rides and sets them to work.

While this was happening, a jack-o-lantern finds life once more and convinces a ne'er-do-well clown that he can help the children. A denture flying fight ensues and then the real trippy nature of the book takes over. The park in essence comes alive, and evil meets its match.

Not technically a Halloween story, this wordless ode to steam punk will have teen readers delighting over the imagery within. Super creepy to this clown-fearin' librarian, fans of Gris Grimly and Burton should approve.

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4. The Twelve Days of Halloween -- Where's My Mummy

Carolyn Crimi is the author of my favourite Halloween picture book, so when I saw that she had a new one out, I was very excited.

It's bedtime and Little Baby Mummy is not ready to go to sleep. He wants Big Mama Mummy to play a game of hide and shriek with him. While Mama is doing the dishes, Baby streaks out the door and into the graveyard. After waiting, and waiting for Mama, Baby gets bit worried. Furthermore, he starts to hear some noises. What is that clanking, and wooing?

"Mama Mummy, is that you?" calls Baby.

Nope.

Each time it's another creature telling Baby to get back to bed. Bones, Glob, and Drac all tell him to get back home. Baby's not scared...yet. When he really is scared and needs Mama, wouldn't you know it, she shows up.

With wonderful rhyming text, Where's My Mummy is sure to become a bedtime favourite. John Manders has created the cutest mummies you ever did see. My own daughters have made this their new request when it's time to tuck in.

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5. The Twelve Days of Halloween - Goodnight Goon A Petrifying Parody

This makes you smile, doesn't it? It certainly makes me smile.

Michael Rex has written a super fun send up of the beloved Goodnight Moon and just in time for Halloween. Instead of bunnies and mittens and mush, readers will delight with a little werewolf, martians and goo. The setting is a tomb of the creepiest sort, and each page offers lots of details to look at. Slimy floors, skeletons, Frankenstein shoes, and big red spiders are sure to delight.

A not too scary Halloween read with lots of appeal!

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6. The 12 Days of Halloween - Georgie's Halloween

I have had a few of these moments as a Children's Librarian over the past 10 or so years. (It never really happened with the YA stuff earlier). I am busily shelving or edging, and a book catches my eye. I pull it off the shelf and low and behold it is a treasure from my childhood. It happened with The Mitten, and more recently with Georgie's Halloween.

Georgie is a shy little ghost. So shy that instead of the kind of haunting that you may imagine a ghost would get up to, he simply sticks by his friends Herman the cat and Miss Oliver the owl.

Things changed the year that there is a big Halloween celebration on the village green, and Mr. Whittaker (the owner of the house with the attic that Georgie haunted) is to give out a prize for the best costume. Georgie doesn't want to go to the celebration at first, but after he is encouraged by his friends he changes his mind. He is delighted with what he sees in the square, and the children who can see him are so that call out his name, and before Mr. Whittaker can get a glimpse of him, Georgie flies back to the house where he has his haunting routine and is so comfortable.

This is a Halloween story of the gentlest sort. Written in 1958 by Robert Bright, Georgie's Halloween is truly all ages. The black and white colour scheme with simply splashes of orange is so indicative of the time, and a welcome change to the riot of colours in so many of today's books.

A walk down memory lane!

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7. Cybils Reminder

Tomorrow is the last day to nominate titles for the Cybils award. I am one of the lucky judges for the graphic novels committee, and I would love to have lots of titles to argue over...a-hem...discuss! Head on over to the Cybils to nominate!

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8. RIP Minx

*Sigh*

I was saddened while visiting Cecil Castellucci's blog to read that the MINX line of graphic novels is no longer.
This makes me sad for a number of reasons.

Just take a look at the "About" tab on the Minx Web Page. I quote ..."MINX graphic novels contain smart, original stories about real girls in the real world. From risk takers to troublemakers, these protagonists don't just play by their own rules, they make them up as they go along resulting in unexpected adventures."

These are books that don't really fit the mould. Different doesn't equal unmarketable. Different doesn't equal unsuccessful.

I encourage you to pick up some MINX titles while you still can. I am a big fan of Plain Janes, Clubbing, and Good as Lily. Jen Hubert has a great review of Emiko Superstar over at Reading Rants.

If you care for the opinion of others on this, go here, here, and here.

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9. The Bells of Bleecker Street

Browsing the shelves of our Lower School library inevitably leads to finding some gems. From the slightly creepy Baby Island, to the magical Gone Away Lake, I usually end up discovering some children's books that may not have otherwise ended on my radar. This time my find was The Bells of Bleecker Street. Since my school is located on the corner of Bleecker Street, I was automatically drawn to this title, and I was happily reading about Joey and his antics over the weekend.

Joey Enrico is a neighbourhood boy. He and his pals hang around the Greenwich Village area. Their main social activities center around The Church of Our Lady of Pompeii, the pushcarts along Bleecker and Sheridan Square. Joey's dad is off fighting in World War II, and Joey is missing him fiercely. He tries to help out in his father's framing shop and stay out of trouble.

But trouble seems to find Joey. Especially when he is hanging out with his friend Pete "the Squeak" Ryan. One day, Joey and Pete decide to go into Our Lady of Pompeii to see the new statue of Saint John. After seeing the new statue, the boys go to see the old one, the one that Joey was baptized under. When the toe of the old Saint John breaks off under Joey's fingertips, Joey panics. The ever mischievous Pete, however, convinces Joey that Saint John's toe should be treated like a rabbit's foot. Joey should keep it for good luck. After all, couldn't Joey use some luck?

So, Joey puts the toe in his pocket and hits the streets. Does his luck change? Maybe a little bit, but Joey is wracked with guilt about his theft.

Valenti Angelo's The Bells of Bleecker Street is a wonderful example of children's literature from the 1940s. Well written chapters are almost stories within the story. Joey and his pals are all squeaky clean family boys who help out around the neighbourhood and generally do the right thing. Joey's Italian family's heritage is examined through everyday activities, and it's interesting to note the differences put forth concerning Pete's Irish family. This is sweet storytelling that would make a great read aloud.

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10. Lazy Little Loafers

I always give a little laugh as I walk through the hallways in my school and overhear 2nd graders reminiscing about what it was like to be in the 4s. How they yearn for rest time now. (Mind you when they were 4, you couldn't pay them to stay on their mats!) Lazy Little Loafers has captured the nostalgia of the older child and brought in some snark for good measure.

"Here's a question for you: Why don't more babies work?"

Really. Why don't they?

Our unnamed protagonist who is busily dragging her HUGE backpack filled with work, is trying to figure this out. There are lots of jobs...there are lots of babies...could it be that babies are simply lazy? Babies certainly look lazy. They are wheeled everywhere in their fancy strollers, they eat snacks and roll around. It seems like the hardest work they do is trying to walk!

Illustrator G. Brian Karas' babies are hilarious as they stick out their tongues, suck their thumbs and cavort in the park. This may not be the picture book for everyone, but older kids who appreciate sarcasm will certainly eat it up! I think my readers who loved A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, and Chowder will love Susan Orlean's Lazy Little Loafers.

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11. Chalk and Cheese

I was lucky enough to attend a book preview this morning at Simon and Schuster. Some wonderful books were discussed including Nikki Grimes' and Bryan Collier's Barack Obama Son of Promise, Child of Hope, My Dad, John McCain, by Meghan McCain, and Hillary Rodham Clinton Dreams taking Flight. Bryan Collier spoke passionately about his project, and showed us some amazing original art from the book. Other highlights were Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson, Must Love Black, by Kelly McClymer and A is for Art, by Stephen T. Johnson.

But the book that stole my heart is none other than Chalk and Cheese, by Tim Warnes.

Chalk and Cheese are as different as, well, chalk and cheese! Cheese has come over to NYC from the British country side to visit his buddy Chalk, and he can't wait to see the sights. Readers are treated to a two page spread of postcard exchanges where the personalities of Chalk and Cheese are laid out. Cheese is ready to see skyscrapers, King Kong, and is hoping for a Stuart Little sighting! Chalk is certainly ready to play tour guide.

From riding the subway and befriending a cockroach (named Cutey Pops!), to seeing the Empire State Building, Chalk and Cheese are in it together. Even a little disagreement can't stop them from being friends.

The illustrations are made up of sequential panels complete with speech bubbles, and the art made me do a bit of a happy dance, because after opening up this book at the back of the presentation room, I just knew that I had to include it on my list of books that I will be presenting at LREI's Annual Family Book Night. This year our theme is graphic novels (sequential art etc), and this is simply perfect for the younger spectrum of our list. We have some FANTASTIC authors/illustrators coming to present, and I am so pleased to place Chalk and Cheese on the list for our attendees!

So fun.

Do yourselves a favour and pick this one up in late October. I know that I will be getting multiple copies!

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12. Ballots for Belva

How timely is this?

Hillary wasn't first. Nor was Ferraro. Have you heard of Belva Lockwood? I had not either before reading this fabulous picture book biography.

Belva once read that a person could move mountains if he or she only had faith. Belva believed this wholeheartedly, and lived her life accordingly. Belva was born in Niagara County, New York in the year 1830. She was the daughter of a farmer, and by the time she was a 39 she had already been married, had a child, been widowed, become a teacher and gotten involved in the suffrage movement. She decided that she wanted to attend law school. In 1869, however, not many law schools wanted to admit women, and the few that did certainly did not want to grant degrees to the women who attended. If you've figured anything out about Belva by now, you know that she found a way to get her deserved degree, and to have it signed by President Ulysses S. Grant to boot!

What could be next for Belva?

After becoming the first woman to graduate from the National University Law School, she became the first woman to practice law in the federal courts. She was the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She rode her tricycle around Washington D.C. oblivious to the stares from those around her. And then in 1884, Belva became the first woman to officially run for president.

Before the ratification of the vote, Belva ran for president! And she got votes. Votes from men. 4711 to be exact. She got more votes than that, but they were thrown out, since the men doing the counting could not believe that anyone would actually vote for a woman.

I found this story not only timely, but incredibly inspiring as well. An author's note, glossary and timeline are included, which make this ripe for classroom use. Do today's kids know that the vote was taken away from women in 1787 (1807 in the case of NJ)? Author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen has done a great job of writing a readable storyline filled with, but not laden down by, facts surrounding suffrage and the political process. Courtney A. Martin's illustrations reflect the time period, though I do wish that the cat accompanying Belva everywhere was explained! This is a book that deserves a prominent place in classroom and library alike!

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13. Abigail Iris The One and Only

Abigail Iris is NOT an only. This means that she shares a room, she can't get the Heelys that she wants, and her family exists on a budget. Her life is different than her 3 best friends who ALL happen to be onlies.

"The Onlies are the luckiest girls in all of the world in my opinion, because they are not on a budget. The Onlies have Heelys and beach cruisers and get to go to ballet camp..." p. 4 arc

Imagine how thrilled Abigail Iris is when one of her only friends, Genevieve, decides to take her on her family vacation for spring break. She is a bit worried that her parents might say no. Genevieve, who has lawyer parents, simply tells Abigail Iris to make her best case.

And that's exactly how Abigail Iris ends up riding in Genevieve's dad's SUV (aka the gas hog)all the way to San Francisco. All the way to a fancy hotel "sweet" with room service. Abigail Iris will have to miss her own family's annual camping trip, but all of these things that families with an Only get to do will be worth it, right?

Maybe.

In the spirit of Amber Brown and Clementine, Lisa Glatt an Suzanne Greenberg have created a fun and feisty character. Wanting what friends have is familiar to many a reader, and 3rd grader Abigail Iris has the perfect blend of pluck and wonder.

This is an illustrated novel and the drawings by Joy Allen add flavor to the story. There is, however, one illustration that doesn't fit the text. Abigail Iris is talking about making a phone call on an old fashioned dial phone. Unfortunately, the phone in the illustration has very obvious push buttons! If you work with kids you will know that this will not go unnoticed! Since this is the arc version, perhaps it will be changed in the final product.

That aside, this is a breezy read that will have younger realistic fiction fans passing it from hand to hand.

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14. Something to Blog About

Libby's life seems to be in the dumps. Not only did she set her own hair on fire during chemistry class, but her crush Seth seems to be flirting with her nemesis Angel Rodriguez. Add to this mix the fact that Libby has just discovered that her mom has had a secret boyfriend for the past 7 months now. His name just happens to be Manny Rodriguez. Angel's dad! Can you imagine?

So what's a girl to do? Blog about it, of course. But in a private password protected blog that nobody would have access to, right? Well, nobody would have had access if her mom hadn't invited Angel and her dad over for dinner.

What will happen when Libby's private blog is suddenly very public? All those thoughts about Seth? Her moaning about her best friend Keisha? Will Libby ever be able to get over the humiliation?

Shana Norris has written a breezy read incorporating blog posts and regular text. The ultimate fear in high school is humiliation, and poor Libby gets more than her fair share. High school, crushes, family structure, and friendship are overarching themes in this title. Perfect for fans of Myracle's earlier work(ttyl etc) and those girls looking for a clean teen read

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15. Generation Dead

Phoebe is a typical goth girl biding her time in high school. She hangs out with her best friend Margi, and Adam from next door has a crush on her. The thing is, the hallways in her high school have changed over the past few years. Oakvale High has become somewhat famous for its integration of living impaired kids. You know ... zombies, corpsicles, worm buffets...however you say it, one thing is sure. These kids are dead.

The interesting thing is that only American teens are coming back from the dead, and not all dead kids return.

Tommy Williams (living impaired, or differently biotic if you will) has managed to catch Phoebe's eye. She knows it's kind of cliche...the goth girl falling for the dead boy, but she cannot help herself. She's drawn to him.

Not all of the kids in Phoebe's school feel the same way about the dead. Kids like Pete and TC from the football team don't think that the dead should mix with the living, and they plan on making sure that everyone who fraternizes with the zombies will pay.

Daniel Waters has written a wry romance slash football story slash high school story that pushes our idea of normal. From the inevitable commercialization of zombie paraphernalia, to the idea of Phoebe and Tommy's relationship becoming physical, readers will find themselves grappling with the reality of their own actions. Think about it. What would you do if your little brother or sister came back from the dead? Would you open your arms or run?

The storyline itself has the perfect blend of reality and sci/fi to crossover audiences, and the ending packs a punch. I think that guys and girls will like this book equally, and they will have a good time reading it!

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16. Trespassers Will Be Baptized

I do like stories of journeys to and from faith, so when I read the title Trespassers Will Be Baptized, I knew I wanted to know more.

Elizabeth Emerson Hancock was growing up in Kentucky where her daddy was a Baptist Preacher. She herself was a deeply religious child who felt the call. In fact, during a block yard sale, Elizabeth and her sister Meg saw the other kids setting up lemonade stands and took matters into their own hands. They set up their own stand..."Baptisms: 25 Cents"!

Hancock weaves humour into this story of growing up religious. She reminds us what it is to look at our parents with awe and then inevitably become disappointed in their choices.

Readers move from the pulpit to Vacation Bible School, to mother-daughter retreats and back. We see the hypocrisy and the love in the church environment. The story is told anecdotally focusing primarily on Hancock's relationship with her father, sister and mother in turn.

When I first picked this book up, I thought it might have a bit more of a Jesusland feel to it, but I was wrong. We simply follow Elizabeth (Em) and her family along the way. It is a description rather than an analysis. It is enjoyable, and gives a good look into the ways of the South and the way that her own family had a journey to faith both within the church and within the home.

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17. Wonder Bear


From the moment I saw this cover, I was mesmerized.

Two children trudge up a hill and plant some seeds. The girl plants watermelon, and the boy seemingly plants top hats.

As they sleep beside the garden, something magical happens. The top hat seeds thrust up a twisted vine that is topped with gorgeous orange flowers. Out from an orange flower climbs a polar bear wearing a top hat.

From that top hat wondrous things emerge for the children with which to play. Monkeys with fuzzy arms and legs. Lion shaped bubbles. Breezes filled with sea creatures.

After the adventure, the children are put back to bed, the wonders go back into the hat, and though the vine stays, the bear and his hat do not.

Was it a dream?

Wordless, wonderful an absolutely beautiful, Wonder Bear was apparently inspired by a gummi bear. Tao Nyeu is certainly a gifted artist with a real sense of story. Under the dust jacket are pre-printed covers featuring our monkey friends and wonder bear himself (herself?). I am not a student of design, but I do know when folks get it right. Wonder Bear begs readers to go back time and time again to discover new wonders.

Delightful.

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18. Just Grace Walks the Dog

Grace is back, and she is on a mission. She is newly crazy about dogs, and she is trying to convince her parents that she is responsible enough to have one. The problem is that her parents say that they are not animal people. But Grace is unconvinced. Both of her parents had pets growing up, so deep down inside, they must be animal people.

How can Grace convince her folks that she can handle a dog?

She comes up with a great solution with the help of friends Mimi, Max and Sammy. Grace and Mimi build a cardboard dog, and start taking care of it like they would take care of a live dog. But trouble can even find a dog made out of cardboard.

Charise Mericle Harper continues the Grace series effortlessly. The familiar characters are there, but they each grow from book to book. The backdrop of school and family, and the quest for a pet will be familiar to many a reader. The vignette style and drawings will keep even reluctant readers moving along, and Grace is just as lovable as ever!

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19. Some Helpful Tips for a Better World and a Happier Life


I fully admit that I am very picky when it comes to picture books. I have certain favorites that I revisit over and over, and I am very happy when a new book tickles my fancy.

Some Helpful Tips for a Better World and a Happier Life has indeed tickled my fancy. From the wonky illustrations, to the suggestions themselves, this book will have readers smiling. Some of the suggestions are "Begin each day by making funny faces in the mirror" and "Splash in puddles whenever possible". My little ones are already trying to decide on some special occasions to invent.

Short, sweet and simply lovely.

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20. Favorite Author Meme

So, I've been tagged twice! Once at Booktopia by Mindy, and once at Tweendom by Juxtabook.
I decided to answer over here.

Here are the rules:
Link to the person that tagged you, post the rules somewhere in your blog, answer the questions, and tag people in your post. Don’t forget to let the tagees know they were tagged, so leave a comment on their blog! And remember to let your tagger know that your entry is posted.

1. Who’s your favorite all-time author, and why?
I would have to say Robertson Davies. The Deptford Trilogy had a hand in shaping my adult tastes, when I read the books in High School. A big thanks to the English Department at A.N. Myer for putting it on the list!

2.Who was your first favorite author, and why?
I was obsessed with poetry when I was young, so I think it would be a tie between Shel Silverstein and Dennis Lee. I actually still have "The Puddle" by Lee committed to memory.

3. Who’s the most recent edition to your list of favorite authors, and why?
Scott Westerfeld. I started with So Yesterday, whipped through the Uglies quartet, and dove into Peeps, and The Last Days. His books are smart, perfectly paced, and oddly important.

4. If someone asked you who your favorite authors were right now, what would pop out of your mouth?
M.T. Anderson, Scott Westerfeld, Hemingway, Merilyn Simonds, Adam Rex, Oliver Jeffers, Jeanne Birdsall, and Jimmy Gownley. Ecclectic, non?

Onto the tagging!

3 Evil Cousins
breenibooks
BookJoy

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21. Summer: A User's Guide

Have you ever looked longingly at those Daring and Dangerous books for girls and boys and wished to be a kid again? Well, wish no longer, because Suzanne Brown's Summer: A Users Guide is right up that alley and aimed at the grown-up set.

Suzanne is a self confessed summer junkie. From her parents renting a bungalow at the Jersey shore, to weekends on the Vineyard with friends, summer held magical moments. Brown uses this book to help those who may not be summer converts to fill their days, no matter the city or country location.

Filled with stunning photographs, readers need not study cover to cover. The format allows for and encourages jumping around. From the initial list of "50 fun things to do this summer" (which includes 8. send a message in a bottle, and 50. spike a watermelon with vodka p. 17) to the instructions on cleaning fish, this is a book that should accompany folks to the beach-house, cottage, cabin, lake house, and kitchen table.

Recipes, instructions for games, hosting, arts and crafts, tire swings, picnics, identifying clouds, car games, skipping stones....the list goes on and on. Yes, this is a family friendly book, but with recipes for cocktails, and instructions for repairing screens, there is a decidedly adult bent.

I really love this book. From the way that it looks to the eclectic content within, it's sure to make a match for plenty of readers. I know that it will be a hostess gift of mine this summer!

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22. How To Ditch Your Fairy

Have you ever imagined having a fairy of your very own? Imagine the magic, or luck, if you will. But what if your fairy only had one specialty and you had no say over what that specialty was? You could end up like Ro with a very doos fairy that helps her shop and find the perfect outfit on sale every time. You could be like Fiorenze with a fairy that makes boys like you! Or you could be like Charlie, who has a parking fairy. The perfect stop, right out front every time.

The thing is, Charlie doesn't like her fairy. She doesn't think it's doos at all to have a parking fairy. People always want her to ride with them in their cars. The school bully will even go as far as kidnapping Charlie for a spot (and his fairy makes the job quite easy!).

So Charlie has decided to get rid of her fairy. There are several theories making the rounds about how to do so, but Charlie has decided that she will starve her fairy. No more riding in cars equals no more parking equals no more fairy. But walking everywhere is complicating Charlie's life. She is constantly late and getting demerits at her uber strict sports school, and frankly, she's a bit tired of getting into trouble.

After months of walking, Charlie is surprised to find herself talking to Fiorenze. After all, Fiorenze is kind of the envy of many of the girls. Even Charlie's beloved Steffi is not immune to Fio's fairy. But, Fio's parents are fairy experts, and Fio tells Charlie that her mom knows secrets about getting rid of fairies. Can Charlie possibly get rid of her own poxy parking fairy, with the help of someone who has been a sworn enemy?

Justine Larbalestier has written the world of New Avalon where having a fairy is as normal as anything. Swimming in the text is an interesting narrative about pop culture, celebrity worship and the very idea of luck itself. Charlie is hilarious, and her friends are just as dear. This is a sure hit with fans of Larbalestier's work, and will have readers everywhere pondering just what kind of fairy they could actually live with. (Personally, as someone living in NYC, the parking fairy would suit me just fine!)

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23. California Here I Come...


Well, like so many of you, I am off to sunny California! I am very excited about this conference because not only am I attending, but I will also be presenting and blogging.

I will be representing my school at the Pre-conference on Diversity. I will be exploring the ways that the library can support school wide diversity efforts, and even spear head some of those efforts!

I will be blogging this for ALSC as well. So if you do not have a chance to come to the pre-conference, head on over to the ALSC blog to read all about it.

I am looking forward to going on some school tours while in Anaheim as well. I love seeing how other folks set things up!

Happy travels!

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24. Tours, meetings and chicken korma


*Whew!* I'm back from my whirlwind trip to Anaheim for ALA's Annual Conference. I left almost before it started since my main thrust was my presentation at the Diversity Leadership Institute, which you can read about over at the ALSC blog! A truly inspiring and informative event!

After the Institute was over, I headed out with my colleague Lana for dinner and we ended up in Downtown Disney. It was quite a sight! We ended up having some pretty delicious tapas before calling it a night.

Next up was the ISS sponsored Independent School Libraries tour. We were fortunate enough to visit two incredibly different and amazing libraries. The first was at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes. A beautiful facility with a reading room featuring beanbag chairs that our middle school kids would die for! Librarian Sarah Knetzer-Davis gave us a fabulous tour, and went above and beyond by delivering some of our ISS members back to conference so that they could make their sessions! Thank you Sarah!

Next up was the Crossroads School in Santa Monica. This felt a bit like home to me as Crossroads is a progressive school, and I have the feeling that many of the students there are quite similar to the ones I have! We visited the Middle and High School library, and it is an amazing site. Most of (if not all of) Crossroads is made up of buildings that used to be used for industrial purposes. The librarians there were great and it sounds like the library is a super active place during the school year, with the students really feeling at home there!

The afternoon was taken up with an ALSC 101 session. Even though I have been a librarian for YEARS (about 12 now), I have been active more with YALSA. Now I am looking to dive into ALSC, so I figured that I would head on over and meet some folks! We had a rousing get to know you fest, and I came away with a better sense of the organization (as well as an author contact for next year! Woot!)

Finding dinner on Friday night was a bit more difficult. Many places had an hour wait. Wandering home I happened upon Gandhi Palace, where I had some really, REALLY good Indian food. So if you are still at Conference and like Indian food, you really should head on over for some dinner!

Then a 4:10 a.m. wake up call this morning, and here I am back in NYC. I'm a bit sad that I didn't get a chance to head onto the exhibit floor, but I am happy to be home!

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25. Bliss


It's 1969 Atlanta, and Bliss Inthemorningdew (yes that is her name) has just been dropped off by her hippie parents at her grandmother's place. Her folks have just left the commune and are heading to Canada, and Bliss' world is about to change.

Her grandmother is a true Southern lady, and quickly enrolls Bliss in the tony Crestview private school. Bliss is excited about actually going to a real school, but she is keeping her friend from the commune Flying V's warning about mean girls in the back of her mind. (Flying V has a gift of sight, and Bliss has a bit of it herself).

Bliss is thrown for a loop when her peer mentor Sarah Lynn ditches her. Luckily Thelma has decided to take Bliss under her wing and she and friends Jolene and Deedee school Bliss in the ways of not only Crestview, but life in Atlanta off the commune.

Unfortunately, when Flying V's warning seems to come into play, and Bliss witnesses some cruelty between classmates, Bliss ends up befriending Sandy. Sandy who the other kids make fun of because she's clumsy, she smells, and well, she's Sandy.

But Bliss feels good about being friends with Sandy. At first. They talk about conformity, power and the Manson Family murder trial. But Sandy is really needy, and it's draining spending time with her. Bliss would rather be with Thelma, Deedee and Jolene, not to mention super cute Mitchell.

What will happen when Sandy gets mixed up in a quest for power that involves the supernatural? Can Bliss disentangle herself from this girl who is set on revenge?

Lauren Myracle has written a thrilling page turner reminiscent of Nixon and Duncan. It's perfectly paced and will keep readers wanting more. Chapters are interspersed with journal pages which are border line terrifying when one thinks about the implications of animal torture and the dark arts.

Bliss is not only a scary thriller. The setting of late 1960s Atlanta allows for some frank discussions of race and the nature of racism. From the token black student at Crestview, to the Klan daddies, to teachers feeling free to use the "N" word in their classrooms, Bliss will have readers chewing on some big ideas as well.

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